The Education Ministry followed through with its threats to seek the closure of part of a haredi girls school that was opened on the premises of another school in Beit Shemesh, and filed a request to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to close it down.
Earlier this week, the Beit Shemesh municipal administration ordered construction workers to separate the two floors of the Safot Ve’Tarbuyot (“Languages and Culture”) school in Beit Shemesh and give the ground floor to the Mishkenot Daat (“Habitation of Knowledge”) haredi girls school due to lack of classroom space in the city.
The construction work, which includes a 2.5-meterhigh wall in the school yard, caused uproar in the volatile city and led the ministry to declare the separation of the school premises illegal and threaten to cut off funding to Beit Shemesh’s education department.
On Tuesday, the Education Ministry confirmed that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court had approved its request to issue an injunction against the division of the school pending a final hearing.
“Until a decision to be made after a hearing, I forbid the defendant to make use of any part of the Safot Ve’Tarbuyot school without receiving written permission from the Education Ministry,” the judge wrote.
In addition, the ministry issued a closure order against the branch of the school opened in Safot Ve’Tarbuyot.
In response, a spokesman for Beit Shemesh’s municipal administration, led by Mayor Moshe Abutbul of Shas, invited Education Minister Shai Piron to visit the city in order to witness the crisis in lack of classroom space.
The spokesman added that the Safot Ve’Tarbuyot school had a far larger capacity for students than its current enrollment of 144 pupils and said that the haredi girls school lacked even mobile classroom structures for some pupils for the beginning of this academic year.
Yesh Atid MK and Beit Shemesh resident Rabbi Dov Lipman welcomed Piron’s intervention.
“We are happy with the decision of Minister for Education Shai Piron to fight against the actions of Mayor Moshe Abutbul who built a wall in the middle of the night to divide the Safot VeTarbuyot school,” Lipman said. “Walls must not be built between Jews... The time has come for the haredi community to break down walls between the different parts of the population, not to build them.”